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Bari, Italy

Benvenuto in Italia! Welcome to Italy!

Our journey to Bari was long, uneventful and at the same time somewhat stressful.  Tired of flying we decided to leave Albania via ferry, which is how we decided to go to Bari in the first place because I was looking on Google maps and saw a dotted line across the Adriatic to Italy.  The ferry requires you to be at the port 150 minutes prior to your scheduled departure time, not so different from flying after all.  Unsure of Tirana’s morning traffic we booked a ride out around 9:00 am to be safe.  We arrived at the ferry terminal in Durres at 10:00 am and were able to board the ferry at 11:00 am for our 1:00 pm departure.  The crossing was a little choppy, but I managed.  The most difficult part was dragging our suitcases up 4 flights of narrow stairs to the seating area.  The ferry was scheduled to arrive in Bari at 9:00 pm, so we spent the day watching Netflix.  Mike ventured top side a few times to take some photos and check on our progress.  Unfortunately, he slipped on the wet stairs on deck and gracefully slid down them.  He came away with an exceptional scrape/bruise on the back of his calf and a few other minor bruises, but it could have been much worse.



Things got more interesting when we arrived in Italy…an hour late.  We had messaged our Airbnb host prior to leaving Albania to receive our check in instructions; however, they did not arrive before we lost cell service crossing the Adriatic Sea.  When we finally made it off the boat at 10:30 pm we found out that the Bari Port does not have WIFI.  The critical point came when Mike removed his Albanian SIM card from his phone and his International eSIM wasn’t working.  So, here we are at 10:30 pm with no phone, no internet, and no check-in instructions.  Bari is a fair-sized city, but it’s not exactly bustling this time of year and there wasn’t much open near the port.  We should have asked for assistance prior to leaving the Port, but where’s the fun in that.  We headed out for our Airbnb anyway and hoped for the best.  We arrived in the area, but still had no internet so we kept walking.  About 20 minutes later in a random parking lot we were blessed with free WIFI.  I’ve never been so relived in my life.  We were able to fix the eSIM issue and get our instructions.  Luckily, the hosts were very understanding of our late arrival, and it was ultimately self check in anyhow. Like I said, uneventful, but stressful.  We arrived at our accommodation around 11:30 pm, but on a bright note we felt very safe wandering the streets of Bari late at night.


Despite our interesting arrival, we had a great time in Bari.  It is full of history and the Old Town is beyond charming.  We wandered the narrow streets in awe of the architecture and beauty of the city.  In the heart of Old Town is the Basilica Pontificia San Nicola which holds the tomb of Saint Nicholas who was the inspiration for Santa Claus.  The Castello Svevo di Bari (the Bari Castle) happens to be free on the first Sunday of every month, so we lucked out there.  There is a gorgeous palace downtown, but they only offer guided tours.  The tours are on Saturdays, and we didn’t find out about the Palazzo Fizzarotti until later in the week.  You can call to book a private tour as well, but we decided not to.  I imagine the vibe during the summer is very different with more people out and about, but we welcomed the quiet.  In peak season women will be sitting outside their homes in the Old Town making and selling fresh pasta.  The specialty in Bari is orecchiette.





One thing to note if you plan on travelling to Italy is that many restaurants and often shops as well are closed in the afternoons.  Italians eat lunch between 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm and dinner after 8:00 pm.  There are some restaurants that are open earlier, but they are often catering to tourists.  So just be sure to check if there is somewhere you’re really keen to go.  YouTube algorithms came in handy for a change. I assume I must have searched for things to do in Bari or something because a video appeared in my feed about the Spaghetti all'Assassina or "Killer Spaghetti". It turns out it there is a restaurant in Bari called Urban l'Assassineria Urbana that does spaghetti a little differently. They pan fry the dry spaghetti in oil and spices and then cook it in the sauce in a frying pan. You get a unique crispy version of spaghetti that was very interesting, but this is a prime example of a restaurant that is only open for lunch and Italian dinner; also I highly recommend making a reservation. In smaller cities there isn’t much open on Sundays either.  The grocery store near our place was only open in the morning on Sunday.



Bari was by far the cleanest city we’ve been to so far; although, dogs and stone sidewalks don’t mix, so watch your step.  It is a beautiful port city with lots of museums to visit and it’s lovely just to walk around and enjoy the sites.  I would highly recommend a visit and if you have time there are some great villages nearby that sound like they are worth exploring.  We really wanted to take a day trip out to Matera which is the only settlement that has been continuously occupied for over 12,000 years.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t find transportation and the tours are few and far between this time of year.


We are headed to Rome next, so it was nice to have a week that was a little slower paced and relaxing beforehand. Ci vediamo a Roma (See you in Rome)!

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